One consistent finding about young Chinese learners is that those who are faster in identifying symbols orally or using a paper and pencil tend to be better readers even years later.
A practical implication of this line of research is that children should be asked to “race” themselves in early reading. Thus, for example, once children can recognize 5 characters in a row slowly, we can ask them to say these again more quickly. A stopwatch is a very nice way to show them whether they are getting faster or not with practice. Encouraging speed sometimes in informal or formal teaching will help children to make their learning of characters more automatic.